Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, left, falls as he drives around Melbourne United Casper Ware Jr.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, left, falls as he drives around Melbourne United Casper Ware Jr. Sue Ogrocki

United gives star-studded Oklahoma big scare

MELBOURNE United almost pulled off a massive upset by pushing the Oklahoma City Thunder to the final seconds of their historic basketball clash on Monday morning.

United had everything from injuries, jet lag, talent and one of the NBA's most intimidating crowds against them, but they rallied to almost pull off a stunning victory against the Thunder.

The Thunder held on to defeat Melbourne 86-85 in a thriller at Oklahoma's Chesapeake Energy Arena.

With five seconds left in the second of three NBL-NBA exhibition clashes, United big man Josh Boone looked like he had the match-winner, but his shot close to the basket was blocked by Thunder reserve forward Josh Heustis.

United retained the ball and, with one second to go, Heustis was again the unlikely saviour for the All-Star-laden Thunder when he blocked Melbourne forward Casey Prather's potential game-winning driving lay-up to leave the score at 86-85.

"We trusted our defence and I just happened to be in the right position to make the play," Heustis said.

The Australians were not intimidated, despite facing some of the NBA's biggest stars, including guard Russell Westbrook, who just signed a $US205-million contract extension, and new All-Star recruits Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.

United, led by Casper Ware's 20 points, six rebounds and three assists and Boone's 15 points and nine rebounds, including four offensive, remained close throughout the game and held leads for stretches.

United forward David Andersen, who had nine points and seven boards off the bench, said United's goal was just to be competitive.

"It was an exciting game, we tried to take it to em as much as we could," Andersen said after the game.

"I thought we did a great job making it competitive all night.

"The NBL's right up there in terms of competition.

"Making them have to play their starters, that's what we wanted.

"It's recovery now for us.

"We fly out tomorrow night, it's a matter of doing all we can to keep the older bodies young."

News Corp Australia


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